Coffee House Set

One of the benefits of being part of a small, acoustic band is that you can set up anywhere. This last weekend, we were at the 4th Street Coffee House for a gospel jam featuring worship groups from several of the local churches, including a few I have never visited.

It’s always nice to meet new friends in the gospel world, and exchange worship tips and tricks.

The 4th Street Coffee House is an outreach of the West Side Ecumenical Society and features worship sets 3 nights a week and an open mic night on Fridays. The Worship Jam was a special event held Saturday Evening in conjunction with the Worship Leader workshop being held at the Downtown Marriott. The workshop was created to help bridge the gaps between churches and denominations where it comes to worship styles and song choices.

bermondsey-street-coffee-best-london-cafe-houseOur band, “At The Well”, did a 40-minute sidebar session at the workshop focusing on blending contemporary and traditional song styles, with an emphasis on creating a more inclusive atmosphere with regards to worship sets.

So, back the coffee shop. Our group opened the set with a few old favorites from or hymnal CD, including ‘Rugged Cross’, ‘Were you There’ and ‘Glory Bound’.

The set was MC’d by the worship leader from the First Baptist Church, and ran from 8PM till nearly 11. All tolled, 14 soloists and small groups performed to a full and attentive house. Each group was encouraged to bring some of their CD’s and download cards, some of which were available for free.

The real benefit of the evening was the communication and sharing among the participants. Worship styles can be a divisive element in any church setting, and more than one church split has been precipitated by the hiring of a new worship leader or choir director. It is unfortunate that an activity meant to enhance communion among the saints can so often bring discord and controversy.

The biggest take away from the weekend is that we should all be more open to other styles of worship. This is especially true of us in the contemporary worship scene. It’s easy to point at the old timers with their hymnals and camp songs, accusing them of being closed minded with regard to the newer worship styles and the message of contemporary worship music.

But are we, representing the new generation of worship leaders and performers, just as guilty of closed minded attitudes towards music? We say to our elders, ‘you need to get with the times’, yet we refuse to consider the value of any song written more than 10 years in the past.

There is a lot of good worship music out there, from many different generations, styles and formats. While we may prefer a particular genre, we should not cut ourselves off from the rest of the worship community based solely on our preference.

As a courtesy to our new friends and fellow members of the worship community, we will be linking to some of their web sites, blogs and CD sites for the next few weeks.

If you want to expand your horizons, and share in some of what we got to experience, then feel free to click the links.